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Cultura Urbana
Santiago de Chile
Abril 2001

The Great Absentee:
David Rosenmann-Taub

by Patricio Rojas


At this time when great poets have gathered in Chile (at the Encuentro Internacional de Poesía), David Rosenmann-Taub is, perhaps, the great absentee. We offer an exclusive interview with him.

Patricio Rojas.: Do the metaphysical or transcendental concepts present in your poetry correspond to any known school of thought or are they the fruit of your experience face to face with the Mystery?

David Rosenmann-Taub: I am my life: I don't take my inspiration from schools of thought of any era. My thinking does not depend on an arbitrary cultural milieu. What is not metaphysical? What is not transcendental? Isn't falling in love metaphysical? Isn't eating metaphysical? Isn't getting sick transcendental?

P. R.: ...or are they the fruit of your experience face to face with the Mystery?

D. R.-T.: They are the fruit of my experience not face to face with the Mystery but within the Mystery, which, moreover, has nothing mysterious about it...
When is poetry, poetry? When it is science.

P. R. : Your book Cortejo y Epinicio begins with the poem "Prelude". Could you give us an explanation of this text?

After, after the wind between two peaks,
and the brother scorpion that rears up,
and the red tides over the day.
Voracious volcano: halo without empire.
The vulture will die: lax punishment.
After, after the hymn between two vipers.
After the night that we do not know
and outstretched in the never a sole body
silent as light. After the wind.

D. R.-T.: The first line of "Prelude": "After, after the wind between two peaks". You, like me, were born on this planet. When did you begin, Patricio? You began to be aware of yourself "after." Everything is "after." There is no "before". It's always "after" that you find out what you like, what you dislike. Our perceptions always lag: simultaneity is impossible. We are "after", even "after after". I, like every human being, discovered my vocation "after." And the movement towards the exterior and interior world, with all its difficulties and easiness – all the energy that being here represents – happens between two peaks. We face "two peaks:" that of doing what we have to do, or that of not doing it.

And from the point of view of Cortejo y Epinicio, my vocation happens between two peaks: a beginning that I do not know and an end that I do not know either.
From the point of view of memory – elaboration and creativity – one peak is what I have witnessed, always “after;” the other is expressing it, “after.”

“...and the brother scorpion that rears up:” the-one-who-seems-to-be versus the-one-who-I-am. I need to struggle in order to be truly one with my vocation. And to attain it internally and externally. We all have a "brother scorpion," who does not want us to fulfill our goals.

In general, the one who is ill-treated is the brother of the "brother scorpion;" given how most people live, it is the “brother scorpion” who prospers, not the other brother, the really real one. We are surrounded by “brother scorpions.” It's not just internal ones. Also external ones. Nature, while wanting there to be creation, does everything it can so that there won't be. Nature constantly offers us a perverse glass. We have to defend ourselves. Threatening to drown us in the blood of the universe, this glass, during our existence here, tries to pour its liquid however it can into our mouth, in order to drown us in our own blood. When a man decides “to be,” he becomes conscious of the “red tides,” of the “brother scorpion,” of the "two peaks."

This is one of the levels of meaning of the first three lines of “Prelude.” Poetry does not exist if it has only one level. To express things on only one level is journalism. The aim of journalism is to achieve exactitude on a single level. The opposite of poetry, which can contain journalism as one of its aspects.